According to league sources, the Cleveland Cavaliers are very high on 20 year-old small forward Harrison Barnes out of the University of North Carolina and appear ready to use their #4 pick in this summers draft to select him.
“He’s a pretty big deal to them”, says one NBA executive.
Even though team workouts and the NBA predraft combine could change things, it’s being said that other NBA executives around the league are planning for Barnes to be off the draft board when the Sacramento Kings make their #5 selection.
In his sophomore year at UNC, Barnes averaged 17.1 points and 5.8 rebounds despite shooting just 44% percent from the field and 35% from three-point range. In UNC’s 4 NCAA tournament games, Harrison’s scoring numbers dropped to 14 points a game on just 33% shooting.
Even though I predicted the Cavaliers would want to go with Bradley Beal out of Florida as their #4 pick, Barnes is probably the better player and fit for this roster.
Having Kyrie Irving at the point, Tristan Thompson in the paint and Barnes on the wing would solidify the core of the Cavaliers future for years to come.
Barnes was never able to truly live up to the hype he created for himself in high school (He averaged 26.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 3.0 assists during his senior year), but he’s still an outstanding prospect with a very high ceiling. He’s a terrific perimeter defender, has outstanding agility and lateral quickness and has a good mind for the game of basketball. His shooting numbers will need to improve for the NBA, but extra hours in the gym at practice will certainly aid in that department.
It also doesn’t hurt that he and Cavs point guard and reigning Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving already have a pre-existing relationship. They became close friends during the “Jordan Brand Classic” where he and Irving shared MVP honors. They also share the same agent as well.
Obviously a lot can happen between now and the NBA Draft, but the Cavaliers sure do seem content on picking Harrison Barnes this summer. Bradley Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are also candidates, but Barnes appears to be the man at pick 4.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports